The Teacher’s “Lunch”

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

7 Comments 04 May 2016

I’m pretty freakin’ fortunate to have time during the school day to dash down the street for vegan gluten-free food when I don’t pack a lunch. When “dashing out” results in a meal like this, I feel pretty lucky.

Backing up… Every other school where I’ve taught has given teachers a whopping 30 minutes for lunch. And every teacher in America knows that dropping off kids at the cafeteria takes a few of those precious minutes right off the front end, especially if there are some special someones who need a little extra “support”. After walking down to the teacher’s lounge, waiting your turn at the microwave, returning an email to a parent on your phone, and trying to remember if your lesson plans are ready for the afternoon, you might be able to sit, shovel, and have a few minutes of adult conversation. After scarfing down a few bites, you zip up your half-eaten lunch mid-conversation, and you speed-walk down the hall to promptly pick up your students in order to stay on the good side of the lunch aides. Turning the corner to the buzzing cafeteria, you silently curse, or school appropriately curse aloud “oh, banana grams!” when you realize that you’ll be hopping ’til 3:30 because you didn’t factor in 90 seconds to use the restroom. Forget a mirror to check for lettuce in your teeth. No worries, your kids will find it for you. Conclusion, teachers have an average of 10.5 minutes to eat lunch.

Speeding forward… My current school gives teachers 50 blissful minutes. Just shy of an hour to heat up a lunch, eat a gigantic salad while actually chewing, make a personal call, have a conversation with a colleague, look over afternoon lesson plans, and even use the restroom. To top it all off, we are actually allowed to walk out the front door like other free Americans to spend our lunch time however and wherever we want. We can go out for lunch! And there are days, like today, when I take full advantage of that option.

juice_generation_Gluten-FreeCat

Today I walked a few blocks to Juice Generation. Instead of grabbing a salad from their selection of raw food goodies, I opted for vegan sushi. The spicy mango roll with black rice, green mango, sweet potato, watermelon radish, and cayenne pepper was exactly what I needed to spruce up my lunch rut.

MangoSushi_GlutenFreeCat

Washed down with “The Professional” and I was ready for an afternoon of fourth grade acrobatics.

Professional

(What is it about me that was attracted to a juice called “The Professional”? Clearly the marketing genius who came up with this name was targeting those of us who aren’t satisfied with a green juice of apple and kale. The professionals go all the way! The more greens the better!)

Thankfully I remembered I needed an afternoon snack while paying for my lunch, and I was so glad that I had looked in Juice Generation’s gluten-free vegan goodie case when I headed back to my quiet classroom after saying goodbye to my charges. This almond butter muffin was not only delicious, it supported my “highly effective” lesson planning this afternoon.

Almond butter muffin

Feeling thankful, well-fed, and highly effective, I’m calling it a day. Teachers, how long do you get for lunch? Are you allowed to leave the building?

Goodbye to a Friend: Risotteria NYC

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City

Goodbye to a Friend: Risotteria NYC

6 Comments 02 May 2016

It’s hard to say goodbye to a friend, to someone who has been there through thick and thin, long hair and short, natural and light, and all phases between hating and falling in love with New York.

It’s painful to say goodbye to someone I met just one month after going gluten free in 2004, who made me realize that eating gluten-free wasn’t a death sentence. Someone who showed me that pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and cupcakes were not gone forever. Someone who I dreamed about. Someone who I purchased plane tickets to visit. Someone who made me want to move to New York. Someone who put the most satisfied smiles on my face for the past 12 years.

Risotteria_Cupcake_GlutenFreeCat

But it is time to say farewell, because Risotteria NYC closed in March of this year, and I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. Their lease was up, and according to owner Joseph Pace, “the 45% increase would have made it impossible to carry on”.

 

Heart wrenching loss.

Risotteria_Restaurant_GlutenFreeCat

Risotteria was a tiny space that has left a huge hole in the gluten-free world.

So this is my farewell, and my thank you, to the restaurant that changed my perspective on gluten-free food and kept me coming back for years.

Risotteria_Menu_GlutenFreeCat

Thank you for the gluten-free breadsticks on every table year after year.

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Risotteria_Breadsticks_GlutenFreeCat

Risotteria_Breadstick2_GlutenFreeCat

Risotteria_Breadstick1_GlutenFreeCat

Thank you for every flavor pizza imaginable on thick and thin crust.

Risotteria_Pizza2_GlutenFreeCat

Risotteria_Pizza2_GlutenFreeCat

Risotteria_Pizza_GlutenFreeCat

Thank you for the paninis. Actual sandwiches on freshly baked and grilled bread.

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Risotteria_Panini_GlutenFreeCat

Thank you for the gluten-free beer.

Risotteria_Beer_GlutenFreeCat

Thank you for the goodies that we could purchase pre-made as well as mixes we could take home to bake a memory when you were far away.

Risotteria_Goodies_GlutenFreeCat

Risotteria_mixes_GlutenFreeCat

(Yes, this was a purchase from one visit.)

Of course there was always your irresistibly creamy risotto.

Risotteria_GlutenFreeCat

Rissoto_Gluten-Free_Cat

Thank you most of all for the cupcakes.

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Those dreamy cupcakes.

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Those decadent, fanciful cupcakes.

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That I couldn’t resist no matter how full I was.

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Thank you for the delicious memories.

Thank you for giving so many Celiacs a place to eat safely.

For being one place where we didn’t have to ask whether something was gluten free.

We miss you already.

Obstacles to Blogging Vegan and Gluten-Free in the City

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegan

Obstacles to Blogging Vegan and Gluten-Free in the City

41 Comments 26 April 2016

It’s been 20 months since my last blog post. This feels a little like Catholic confession. Although I’m not Catholic I’ve seen a lot of confessional scenes on tv. And while my intention isn’t to confess the reasons for my absence I’d like to explain the obstacles, because existing in New York City is a daily obstacle course. Blogger or regular human.

1 The Kitchen

Cooking and preparing food in a 6-square foot corner kitchen just isn’t exciting or easy. While I’ve acquired a butcher block to extend the kitchen into the living room, making it actually possible to make a dish or two, it’s still an ordeal that often makes me crazy and cranky. And how many smoothies and salads do you really want to read about? Because that’s about the extent of my kitchen work.

My NYC Kitchen

My NYC Kitchen

2 The Vegan Restaurants

New York is a gluten-free vegan’s dream. In my neighborhood alone, in a New York minute, I can walk to 4 vegan restaurants and 4 “fast food” vegan counters for a quick bite or fresh juice. If I blogged about the food I eat you’d get really tired of hearing about Blossom’s kale salads and beet burgers, Peacefood’s biscuits and daily soups, and Candle Cafe’s tempeh sandwiches. Because I eat these all the time.

Candle Cafe Tempeh Sandwich

Candle Cafe Tempeh Sandwich

3 Takeout

And then there’s delivery for those blustery winter months or “I don’t want to get out of my pjs” days.

Winter

Winter

Seamless, I love you. I also love the fact that you can get anything delivered to your door within an hour. Meals, groceries, cat food, wine, anything. I could blog about this a grand total of once.

4 Brunch

Brunch in New York is not optional. In the South the question isn’t “do you attend a church?” It’s “where do you go to church?” It’s assumed that you’re a good person and good people are church-goers. In New York brunch trumps church for most people. You roll out of bed on Sunday morning and don’t even have to ask the question. You’re going to brunch. The question becomes “where are we going to brunch today?” With brunch comes eggs, and eggs are obviously not vegan. As a vegan blogger my readers don’t want to hear that I eat eggs at brunch once a week, even if they are organic and locally sourced and served with gluten-free bread. There. I said it.

 Cafe Lalo

Cafe Lalo

5 Gluten-free Goodies

Gluten-free baking is out of the question in my kitchen. For the first two years we lived here my oven didn’t even work. But there are a half dozen options for gf baked goods scattered across the Upper West Side. Plus, picking up a blueberry corn muffin as a treat at By the Way Bakery is probably better for me than having a dozen calling my name from my counter at home. Are their treats vegan? No. But I do enjoy an occasional non-vegan treat. There. I said it. Again.

Gluten-Free Cupcakes

Gluten-Free Cupcakes

6 Gluten-Free Options

Gluten-free menus and options at restaurants are plentiful. Everywhere you eat there are options. I rarely call ahead anymore as I know they’ll be able to accommodate my dietary restrictions. I feel less and less an of an obligation to share my incredible gluten-free finds, because most restaurants have finally figured out how to do it well.

7 New York Experiences

There is so much to experience in the City.

Johnny Swim

I have no idea how I ever had time to create a recipe, cook or bake, set up the perfect photo, edit the photos, and write a colorful description three days a week while working full-time. Seriously, what else did I do? In the City there are parks to be walked, shows to see, friends to meet for happy hour, and gatherings that start too late for a school teacher. And they all seem to a happen last minute. I’m experiencing life. And I’m tired all the time.

8 The black cats who inspired this blog. image

You may remember that we lost Marcy back in 2012. We lost my sweet Max here in the city in 2014. Without these two little rays of light and joy it was a dark world for a long time. Writing about anything is hard in grief. Just last year we did rescue a 20-year-old kitty named Maggie, and we consider each day we have with her a gift.

Maggie

Maggie

So if blogging in the City is such a drag, why am I starting up again?

  1. I miss the blogging community.
  2. I miss connecting with readers.
  3. I miss the process of writing.
  4. I’m hoping you don’t mind if I blog about life instead of food all the time.
  5. There are incredible things about this City I’d love to share with you.
  6. There are annoying things about this City I’d love to share with you.
  7. I’m hoping I can be transparent instead of being afraid to share times I’ve enjoyed a non-vegan experience.

    Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

    Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

  8. New York City is eye-opening.

I hope you’ll come back and read!

Hummus Kitchen

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

Hummus Kitchen

7 Comments 18 April 2014

New York City has to be the easiest place to be a gluten-free vegan. Yes, I’m a lucky foodie girl. There are days that I still can’t believe I get to live here. While traipsing through the City we found this little place and decided to stop in for a snack.

Hummus_Gluten-Free_Cat

Several snacks.

That turned into dinner.

With so many options it was hard to choose. The vegan items are clearly marked on the menu and many menu items are naturally gluten-free. I just ran my order past the waitress who confirmed that my choices would be safe.

Their hummus is insanely creamy and served warm. They were even kind enough to serve it with sliced veggies instead of pita bread. Now if they could make a gluten-free pita bread…

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Creamy Babaganush

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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

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A rice and lentil dish called Majadra

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Falafel served with Green Tahini

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***Note: I have since read that the fryer at Hummus Kitchen is not dedicated gluten-free, which is important for those of you who are extremely sensitive. Thankfully it did not bother me.

A feast.

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There are 4 Hummus Kitchen locations in New York City. I highly recommend stopping in for a plate or three.

Valentine’s Day at Candle Cafe West

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegan

Valentine’s Day at Candle Cafe West

8 Comments 19 February 2014

On Valentine’s Day, the Husband took me to one of the vegan restaurants in our neighborhood that we hadn’t yet been to together. I was thrilled to be wined and dined at Candle Cafe West with my love on this special occasion, and he definitely knocked it out of the park with the restaurant choice. We had to chuckle when the waiter asked if either of us had ever been to Candle before. I had been there with some girl friends, but the Husband had not. So the waiter looked at the Husband and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. This is vegan food for people who like food.” Obviously he had no idea who he was dealing with!

There are two Candle restaurants in the city. We had a wonderful experience at Candle Cafe East several years ago, so I knew this was going to be an incredible dinner.

We had the option of ordering dishes off the prefixed menu or going for the whole kit and kaboodle by choosing a soup, an appetizer or salad, an entree, and a dessert.  There was also an option to have each course paired with a different wine. Guess which one we chose!

Every single item we ordered was outstanding. There were at least two gluten-free options in each category, so there was plenty for me to choose from. We both ordered something different so we could enjoy more of the menu.

The Soups

Both soups were creamy and unique, starting off our meal with warm tummies on a cold evening. The portions were huge, but they were so delicious I just couldn’t help eating the entire thing! I wondered how in the world I would be able to eat 3 more courses. Don’t worry, I managed.

Valentine's1Gluten_Free_Cat

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Arame Caviar and Truffle Oil

Valentine's2_Gluten-Free_Cat

Smoked Red Pepper Soup with Bread

(The soup was gluten free, but the bread was not.)

I appreciated that there was plenty of time between courses to enjoy the wine and actually start feeling ready for more food. We weren’t rushed on this busy night but were given time to savor and anticipate the next course.

The Appetizers

Again, the appetizers were ample. Mine was almost a mixture of an appetizer and a salad. The Husband’s was almost a lunch portion entree.

Valentine's4_Gluten-Free_Cat

Grilled Artichokes with Green Beans, Hearts of Palm, Kale, English Peas, and Red Pepper Aioli

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Yes, I actually ate peas! There are few foods that I dislike, and peas are one of them, but these weren’t bad disguised in the delicious flavors from the rest of the dish.

Valentine's3_Gluten-Free_Cat

Spinach Ravioli with Tofu Cheese, Sauteed Spinach, Garlic, and Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce

(This was not gluten-free, so the Husband enjoyed this one all by himself.)

The Entrees

I actually can’t say which entree I liked better. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them in the restaurant as well as the leftovers the next day. I am determined to improve my tempeh and tofu-baking skills after tasting what can be done with them! The tempeh tickled my tastebuds with spiciness while the tofu had a Asian flair similar to Suzanne’s Dragon Sauce at Hello Veggy.

Valentine's6_Gluten-Free_CatVegetable Stuffed Tempeh with Grilled Tempeh, Sauteed Peppers, Shallots, Oyster Mushrooms, and Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce

Valentine's7_Gluten-Free_CatSesame Crusted Tofu with Ginseng Infused Black Rice, Sauteed Snow Peas, Edamame, Ginger, and Sake-Miso Sauce

The Desserts

Love. Love. Love. Three out of the four desserts offered were gluten-free. So we narrowed it down to chocolate and chocolate. I’m a firm believer that if there is a chocolate option there’s no need to look further. I’m sure we ordered the best two desserts, because I can’t imagine a dessert tasting better than either of these.

Valentine's9_Gluten-Free_Cat

Almond Joy – Chocolate and Almond Mousse, Candied Almonds, and Raspberry Coulis

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Brownie with Candied Pecans, Strawberries, Kahlua Ice Cream, and Chocolate Sauce

It was a delightful evening with incredible food and wine and great service. I would highly recommend Candle West for a special occasion or just a fun dinner out. Put it on your list!

Candle Cafe West
2427 Broadway
New York, NY

Readers, dish!

  • What did you do for Valentine’s Day?
  • Which of the above dishes would you order?
  • Have you ever been to Candle Cafe?
Weekend in the City and a Pastis Brunch Review

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegan

Weekend in the City and a Pastis Brunch Review

4 Comments 18 November 2013

It was a gorgeous weekend in NYC. It started with an inspiring run in Central Park as we ran against over 500 ultra marathoners competing in a 60k race. Now when I say against, let me clarify that they were my oncoming traffic. I am not an ultra marathoner. But there’s nothing like watching such strength and dedication whiz by you to capture every possible complaint that might slip past your panting lips. If they can run 60 kilometers surely I can finish my 4 mile loop!

Afterwards we took the opportunity to try out a restaurant that I’ve been meaning to get to for months. A sweet friend gave us a gift card as a Welcome to New York Gift and it’s taken this long to finally make the arrangements to eat at Pastis. We tried weeks ago to make reservations for the next day and found that they were all booked up for weekend brunch until this weekend. Tip #1: Plan ahead.

Pastis

Pastis is a large restaurant by New York standards located in the West Village on a cute cobble stone street. It was designed to replicate a 1930s Parisian brasserie, and from what I read and experienced, it is always hopping. There’s a large communal table in the middle of the restaurant, a large bar, and small tables packed around the perimeter. I have no idea how we were fortunate enough to be seated at the best table in the house…a cozy table for two in a corner. If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic restaurant, this is not it. Loud and romantic? Definitely.

Pastis_indoors

Tip #2: Order a cocktail. Yes, even for brunch. They have an assortment of wines, and a full bar, but the brunch cocktails looked really delicious. We ordered simple mimosas that weren’t on the menu, and they were incredibly refreshing after a morning run. But be prepared to spend $13-14 on your beverage. Yes, two mimosas cost $28, so no refills thank you.

Mimosa

Tip #3: Make sure to notify your waitstaff of your food allergies. I was extremely impressed with our waitress who warned me about this gorgeous stack of fries that the Husband ordered. No nibbling for me as they are fried in the same oil as the shallots which include a little flour. Later, the manager even came to the table to check on us and make sure that I knew that the french fries were not safe for me. That inspired confidence.

Fries

Tip #4: If you are a vegan, however, you will find very limited options at Pastis. Much of the brunch menu consists of eggs, fish, and meat. There are a few salads that you could order without the cheese, fresh fruit, grapefruit, and this oatmeal.

Oatmeal

Knowing my limitations, I was prepared with my order before we sat down. (If you haven’t read my series on Eating Out Gluten-Free, my first tip is Do Your Homework. If I hadn’t done my research, I never would have known that their oatmeal was an option. Normally, ordering oatmeal at restaurants in off limits as they do not serve gluten-free oats. But Pastis uses Anson Mills Steel Cut Oats which are gluten free.

Oatmeal_toppings

Topped with sauteed bananas, walnuts, and golden raisins, these oats tasted divine. They were so good that I didn’t bat an eye at the $13.00 price tag. Tip #5: Be prepared to drop a pretty penny on your meal.

The Husband ordered this Bagel with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese which was not gluten-free. Although he thoroughly enjoyed his meal, he mentioned that the bagel with cream cheese that he picks up at the corner bodega is just as good, especially since this one was $19.00. But if they had gluten-free bagels for $19.00 I probably would have ordered two!

bagel

So the bottom line is that Pastis is a great experience that has many options for gluten-free diners but limited options for vegans. It was fun to experience once, but with all of the gluten-free, vegan fare this city has to offer we won’t be back.

After brunch we were off to explore more of the city, and this weekend we chose the American Museum of Natural History.

Nov Day

I met a few friends.

dinosaur

thinking

This one was for my daddy. He has called me “Monkey” since birth. (What does that say about what I looked like as a newborn?) I texted him this picture and his response was, “Which one is you?” Love that guy.

Readers, dish!

  • Have you been to Pastis?
  • How was your weekend?
  • How do you prepare for a new restaurant?
Organic Avenue: I’m in Love

GF Friendly Restaurants, Raw Foods, Travel

Organic Avenue: I’m in Love

7 Comments 27 March 2013

On a recent cab ride into New York City I did a double take as we flew past the orange Organic Avenue sign. This trip suddenly had a new purpose. It was no longer just a weekend away. I had to find out what was in that store. To my delight, I quickly learned that it was located just a few blocks from where we would be staying, which made multiple trips quite convenient.

But it only took one trip to fall in love.

At Organic Avenue L.O.V.E = Live. Organic. Vegan. Experience.

I just had to step inside Organic Avenue once to know that this was a store for me. These were my first three sights:

Cases filled with high quality, organic, cold pressed juices

Protein Smoothies and Nut Mylks

Salads and Raw Food!

Fabulous fare for a traveler like me in search of healthy food while away from my juicer, Vitamix, and dehydrator. But Organic Avenue specializes in raw foods cleanses. They have three levels to choose from: Love Easy, Love Fast,  and Love Deep. So whether you are looking for deep detox or a restart, you’re sure to find a cleanse that will work for you.

A weekend in New York is not the time for me to detox. There are just way too many gluten-free goodies to sample, but I made sure to start each day off with a healthy breakfast from Organic Avenue.

Day 1 began with Green LOVE. Crammed with green veggies and lightened with pear and lemon, this juice was absolutely delicious and refreshing. The Husband loved the Green Coco with added Thai Coconut Water.

Day 2 started with smoothies. Since I made the walk to get breakfast that morning I got first choice when I returned home with two options. I think the Chocolate Love Smoothie is one of the best smoothies I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of smoothies. Made with cashews, hemp seeds, dates, Himalayan salt, vanilla powder, cacao powder, and Irish moss, this smoothie was a great way to start the day. The Husband enjoyed the Berry Blast Protein Smoothie so much that he bought one every day for the next week. (Lucky man got to stay in the city while I returned home on Day 3.)

Day 3 started with Berry Chia Tapioca Pudding topped with Cinnamon Raisin Granola. Strawberries, dates, coconut meat and an assortment of nuts and seeds made this a satisfying way to start our last of day trekking through the city.

Organic Avenue isn’t just a place for breakfast. You can enjoy soup, salads, snacks, entrees, and even desserts. The Husband tried their Mexi-Fresh Tacos and gave a report that made me extremely jealous.

I’d highly recommend stopping at Organic Avenue the next time you’re in New York City. It will keep you well fueled for all of the activity you have planned. Like everything else in the City, it is expensive. A bottle of juice costs between $9.00 and $12.00 depending on the size of the bottle, and a smoothie is a whopping $10.00. But considering that you’re fueling your body with high quality, delicious food in the most expensive city on the planet, it may just be a deal! Hey, I was sold!

Readers, dish!

  • Have you been to Organic Avenue?
  • Have you tried one of their cleanses?
  • What is your favorite Organic Avenue product?
Terri in NYC: Fast food? Yes, please!

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, Travel

Terri in NYC: Fast food? Yes, please!

7 Comments 09 January 2013

Since I’m on a juice kick, I thought I’d share a quick post on one of my favorite fast food lunch spots in New York City.

Did she just say “fast food”?

Yes, please!

Terri is a vegetarian quick service restaurant located at 60 West 23rd Street. If you’re anywhere nearby you must make a point to stop in. Grab a juice, a healthy fast food meal, or a sweet treat, and be on your way with nutrition in hand.

Terri makes vegetarian meals that taste like favorites such as a “Meatball” Subs, “Bacon Chicken” Cheddar Ranch Sandwiches, and Chick Pea “Tuna” Melts. All of their sandwiches can be made on gluten-free bread and wraps with gluten-free tortillas.

Terri strives to use organic ingredients and super foods. Wholesome salads, smoothies, and juices are just a few more healthy options you’ll find.

I love these juices to go.

Now this is one happy, makeup-needing, lady with a green juice to start her day!

Ordering a gluten-free wrap is a rare pleasure. Nashville can’t yet provide me with such an experience. So I always get a wrap when I go to Terri. They’re grilled closed and actually stay together, unlike many gluten-free wraps.

Safe enough to unwrap neatly in a cab.

Grilled so perfectly that they hold together even when racing to the airport at breakneck speed. (When do NYC cabs not race somewhere at breakneck speed?)

This Thai “Chicken” Wrap passed the bite test.

And more than passed the taste test!

But their Hummus & Avocado Wrap is my favorite.

If only I’d had one more hand to carry one of these Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting. I don’t think they would have passed the cab test.

Healthy, vegetarian fast food is a dream. But at Terri that dream comes true.

I swear someday I’m moving to New York…

Readers, dish!

  • Have you ever been to Terri?
  • What’s your favorite healthy fast food joint?
  • Have you found a place that serves gluten-free wraps?
Terri
60 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010
T:212-647-8810
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 6am – 11pm; Saturday & Sunday, 8am – 9pm
Nashville Sports Bar Has Gluten-Free Options

GF Friendly Restaurants

Nashville Sports Bar Has Gluten-Free Options

3 Comments 23 November 2012

Has this ever happened to you? Big game on tv, sports bar selected, you show up ready to cheer on your team, and there’s nothing you can eat. Well, you can usually find a dry bed of lettuce and a glass of water, but what’s the fun in that? You sit there half-heartedly cheering, starving, and longing for the days when you could order pizza, wings, and a pint of beer without a care in the world. That was all before you found out that you couldn’t eat gluten. Sports bars are one of the hardest places to eat gluten free. That’s why Sam’s Sports Grill in Nashville caught my attention.

Imagine my excitement when I found this gluten-free menu online and saw that it wasn’t just a list of salads! Sam’s Sports Grill has a gluten-free menu with appetizers, pizzas, burgers, chicken, and salads that are all made without gluten-containing ingredients.

Located in Hillsboro Village in the heart Titan’s country and blocks from Vandy, Sam’s is a popular place to hang out with friends and watch a game.

How many times have you been to a sports bar only to find that the only drink option is beer?

Sam’s serves Angry Orchard gluten-free cider.  My absolute favorite cider to date.

Sam’s has four different starters that are gluten free.  Baby Back Ribs, two different kinds of Nachos, and Spicy Chorizo Queso Dip will start your game off with a bang. We ordered the Nachos Grande with certified gluten-free tortilla chips piled high with chili, melted queso, tomatoes, onions, fresh jalapenos, and sour cream. I can’t tell you the last time I indulged in such decadence!

But the real reason I was there was to sample the gluten-free pizza.  Yes, gluten-free pizza at a sport’s bar!

Sam’s makes gluten-free pizza with French Meadow Bakery gluten-free crust. The crust comes in an aluminum tin to avoid cross contamination. I appreciated that Sam’s served the pizza in the tin so I knew that the pizza hadn’t been on any other surface that might contain gluten.

That did mean that the pizza was less than crisp, but this a small price to pay for delicious pizza and safe serving procedures.

On a Sunday afternoon, the bar was a buzz with football fans, but the waitstaff was very attentive and willing to answer questions about the gluten-free menu.

They did make one thing extremely clear. Their gluten-free menu is a menu of items without gluten ingredients. They state “In general, if you are highly allergic to gluten, we only offer a gluten-free menu as a healthy option.”

That statement almost prevented me from eating at Sam’s. Their gluten-free menu items are made in the same kitchen where flour abounds from sandwiches, burger buns, and pizza. I was very hesitant to risk getting sick just to review a restaurant for this blog. But then I realized that so many restaurants with gluten-free menus are in the exact same position. They want to provide gluten-free options, but they do not have the space to dedicate to gluten-free preparation. The difference is that Sam’s was honest with me. And they left the decision up to me.

Sam’s says that they make sure that when preparing gluten-free menu items the preparation surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Their kitchen managers have all taken safe serve classes, and in weekly meetings they stress the importance with their staff about properly handling gluten-free orders.

Does that make you feel more comfortable? Or less? I decided that I was willing to take the risk, and thankfully I did not get sick. The food was delicious, I had a great time, and I’m glad to say that there’s one more place where Nashville can go to enjoy gluten-free food.

But it’s also a reminder that eating out gluten-free is the sole responsibility of the diner. You have the choice of whether or not to eat at a restaurant. Your health is your own responsibility. For more information about dining out gluten free, check out my series in 10 Days of Gluten Free created by Linda of The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

Readers, dish!

  • Have you tried Sam’s gluten-free menu?
  • Have you found a sports bar that offers gluten-free menu items?
  • How do you feel about ordering off a gluten-free menu in a non-gluten-free kitchen?
  • What questions do you ask before ordering off a gluten-free menu?
***(Disclaimer:  I have no connection to nor was I paid by Sam’s Sports Grill. I did receive a complimentary meal to review. I do not give positive reviews just because a meal was free but will always give my honest opinion.)
Sam’s Sports Grill
1803 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 383-3601

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, friend, fitness fanatic, foodie, high raw vegan, child of the King, and Mama Cat. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. And now I have another challenge ahead...I'm moving to New York City! I look forward to Living Raw Vegan in the City and sharing my experience with you.

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